Summer Daze, Come What May’s
May 17, 2012 in Uncategorized
Ah, the great English ‘Summer’! Grass as green as ever seen; thick ropes inanely hauled across those soggy outfields by grim-faced groundsmen; military medium trundlers boasting the figures of Malcolm Marshall; a touring side hidden under vast swathes of woollen jumpers, hands within lukewarm pockets – wishing that at this point in mid-May they were somewhat closer to the equator.
I’m not sure it is fair on whichever country it is that has the privilege of touring England’s green and unpleasant shores as the ‘warm-up’ act for the Test series deemed more important later on in the summer. For the first thing, you are genuinely considered to merely be good enough to ‘warm-up’ England these days, and nothing more or you’d have been given the July/August slot. Last year we had the miserable sight of Sri Lanka looking totally as if they would rather be somewhere else for 3 Tests. Who can blame them – no-one enjoys playing cricket in the cold; stood in the slips hoping nothing comes one’s way as one’s hands are frozen stiff in one’s pockets, trying to warm something else. On the subject of touching wood, we have actually had almost two full days without rain now, which is a nice change; across much of this summer cricket grounds across the country have had more chance of growing rice than producing adequate cricket conditions. If it isn’t great playing cricket in May, just be thankful that you don’t play County Cricket, which started over a month ago.
To be fair to Darren Sammy and his touring West Indian side, they have indeed made the right noises, and the spirit they’ve already displayed looks to be a vast improvement on the limp side the morose Chris Gayle brought here a couple of years ago. However, despite the improved team attitude there is the undeniable feeling that this is a squad which is inadequately prepared, too inexperienced, and perhaps just plain not good enough to test England in the upcoming weeks. Whilst the likes of Barath, Powell, Edwards and Bravo are undoubtedly good prospects with the willow, it is difficult to think of another Test nation who would have them all in the top 4. There doesn’t seem to be much below (the magnificent) Chanderpaul at 5 capable of scoring any runs, either.
More positively, the bowling line-up, shorn of wunderkind spin-bowler Narine who earnt himself $700k by playing in the (otherwise pointless) IPL, has some serious pace in Roach and Edwards, and a decent swing option in Rampaul. England skipper Strauss’s opportunity to break his current spell of 1 century in 50 Test innings isn’t exactly going to be straightforward this summer, with South Africa’s Steyn and Morkel to come later in the summer.
After England were nobbled over the winter quite badly for recent times, I hope it does not come across as condescending to want the West Indies to be at least competitive in the series. I’m not expecting them to go home waxing lyrical miracles about the fun they had during the third time they had to leave the field due to incessant rain, but it would be nice for a couple of them to make some runs and for them to at least learn something so they can be competitive in the future. After all, England could do with a decent warm-up Test…